European Championship Qualifying - Group F
Finland1Northern Ireland1

Euro 2016 qualifiers: Finland 1-1 Northern Ireland

Craig Cathcart scores his first goal for Northern Ireland in the match against Finland
Craig Cathcart scored his first goal for Northern Ireland in the match against Finland

Northern Ireland conceded a late equaliser away to Finland but the point means they finish top of their Euro 2016 qualifying group.

Michael O'Neill's men had looked like ending a triumphant campaign with a win having led for most of the match through a Craig Cathcart header.

Defender Cathcart, 26, glanced in his first NI goal in the 31st minute after Niall McGinn had clipped in a cross.

Central defender Paulus Arajuuri got Finland's equaliser in the 87th minute.

It was a disappointing end for Northern Ireland, but they have finished top of a qualifying group for the first time, winning six of their 10 games.

They are the first fifth seeds to win a European Championship qualifying group.

NI's remarkable turnaround

The draw in Helsinki capped an unbelievable qualifying campaign.

Having managed a solitary victory in their World Cup 2014 group, Northern Ireland were in pot five when the draw was made in February 2012.

At the time, after discovering NI's Group F opponents, manager Michael O'Neill said: "You could possibly get third place with 14 points, which I think is achievable."

Instead, Northern Ireland have topped a group for the first time, winning three away from home

Before the campaign, NI had won only three away competitive matches in 13 years.

Group F table

Cathcart celebrates first NI goal

Northern Ireland did not seem to be suffering any ill-effects from the celebrations which followed Thursday's historic win over Greece in Belfast.

Michael O'Neill's men had the better chances in the first period and made the breakthrough just after the half-four mark.

Paddy McNair picked up possession after a fruitless corner and slipped the ball to McGinn in space on the right side of the penalty area.

The Aberdeen winger crossed to the near post and Cathcart, still forward from the set-piece, was there to flash a header across goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky.

Cathcart, deputising for the injured Jonny Evans, was making his 23rd international appearance.

Finns fight back

The visitors waned after the interval and Finland had chances to equalise.

They eventually made one count, as Kasper Hamalainen cushioned a lovely header into the path of centre-back Arajuuri who netted a low finish.

It meant an anxious last few minutes for Northern Ireland, but they secured the point to win Group F.

Man of the match - Craig Cathcart

Craig Cathcart's first NI goal came in his 23rd appearance
Craig Cathcart's first NI goal came in his 23rd appearance

What they said

Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill: "I think this group of players fully appreciate what they have achieved and go into Euro 2016 to really embrace and enjoy it. However, we also go there with a point to prove and not only be competitive but to excel and take as much from the tournament as we can.

"Of course I'm disappointed not to win the game but we're delighted to top the group and everyone in the dressing room feels exactly the same. We've certainly not got there by any good fortune.

"I genuinely believe we're the best team in the group, the most effective team in the group and we finished as top scorers too. The players deserve enormous credit for that."

Line-ups

Finland

  • 1Hradecky
  • 5Jalasto
  • 2Arajuuri
  • 7Ojala
  • 18Uronen
  • 6SchüllerSubstituted forHamalainenat 79'minutes
  • 16Mattila
  • 14Sparv
  • 19RingSubstituted forLodat 44'minutes
  • 20Pohjanpalo
  • 9SadikSubstituted forPukkiat 66'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Moisander
  • 4Toivio
  • 10Pukki
  • 11Lod
  • 12Mäenpää
  • 13Arkivuo
  • 17Lam
  • 21Hamalainen
  • 22Raitala
  • 23Joronen

Northern Ireland

  • 1McGovern
  • 17McNairSubstituted forMcLaughlinat 51'minutes
  • 4McAuley
  • 20Cathcart
  • 11Brunt
  • 8Davis
  • 6Baird
  • 16Norwood
  • 7McGinnSubstituted forFergusonat 71'minutes
  • 10LaffertySubstituted forMagennisat 79'minutes
  • 14Dallas

Substitutes

  • 2McLaughlin
  • 3Ferguson
  • 5McCullough
  • 9Mckay
  • 12Carroll
  • 13McLaughlin
  • 15McCourt
  • 18Reeves
  • 19Ward
  • 21Magennis
  • 22Boyce
  • 23Mannus
Referee:
Sergey Karasev

Match Stats

Home TeamFinlandAway TeamNorthern Ireland
Possession
Home56%
Away44%
Shots
Home14
Away8
Shots on Target
Home5
Away3
Corners
Home3
Away4
Fouls
Home10
Away4

Live Text

Match ends, Finland 1, Northern Ireland 1.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Finland 1, Northern Ireland 1.

Sakari Mattila (Finland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Oliver Norwood (Northern Ireland).

Foul by Paulus Arajuuri (Finland).

Josh Magennis (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Offside, Northern Ireland. Shane Ferguson tries a through ball, but Josh Magennis is caught offside.

Goal!

Goal! Finland 1, Northern Ireland 1. Paulus Arajuuri (Finland) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Kasper Hämäläinen with a headed pass.

Foul by Ville Jalasto (Finland).

Shane Ferguson (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt blocked. Kasper Hämäläinen (Finland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Joel Pohjanpalo.

Attempt saved. Chris Brunt (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

Attempt blocked. Josh Magennis (Northern Ireland) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is blocked. Assisted by Shane Ferguson.

Foul by Kasper Hämäläinen (Finland).

Conor McLaughlin (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution

Substitution, Northern Ireland. Josh Magennis replaces Kyle Lafferty.

Substitution

Substitution, Finland. Kasper Hämäläinen replaces Rasmus Schüller.

Sakari Mattila (Finland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Oliver Norwood (Northern Ireland).

Substitution

Substitution, Northern Ireland. Shane Ferguson replaces Niall McGinn.

Offside, Finland. Tim Sparv tries a through ball, but Robin Lod is caught offside.

Corner, Finland. Conceded by Chris Baird.

Substitution

Substitution, Finland. Teemu Pukki replaces Berat Sadik.

Attempt saved. Sakari Mattila (Finland) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Berat Sadik.

Foul by Rasmus Schüller (Finland).

Chris Baird (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Berat Sadik (Finland).

Gareth McAuley (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Paulus Arajuuri (Finland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Kyle Lafferty (Northern Ireland).

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Chris Baird (Northern Ireland) because of an injury.

Foul by Sakari Mattila (Finland).

Chris Baird (Northern Ireland) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Joel Pohjanpalo (Finland) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Tim Sparv.

Substitution

Substitution, Northern Ireland. Conor McLaughlin replaces Patrick McNair.

Attempt missed. Joel Pohjanpalo (Finland) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Jere Uronen.

Attempt blocked. Sakari Mattila (Finland) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Robin Lod.

Attempt blocked. Ville Jalasto (Finland) right footed shot from long range on the right is blocked. Assisted by Joel Pohjanpalo.

Second Half

Second Half begins Finland 0, Northern Ireland 1.

goal

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Iceland96211751220
2Czech Rep96121612419
3Turkey9432139415
4Netherlands94141511413
5Latvia9054618-125
6Kazakhstan9027618-122

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Belgium96212141720
2Wales953194518
3Bos-Herze94231410414
4Israel94141511413
5Cyprus94051414012
6Andorra9009434-300

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Spain98012231924
2Slovakia9612136719
3Ukraine96121431119
4Belarus9315814-610
5Luxembourg9117423-194
6Macedonia9108618-123

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Germany107122491522
2Poland1063133102321
3R. of Ireland105321971218
4Scotland1043322121015
5Georgia103071016-69
6Gibraltar100010256-540

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1England99002832527
2Switzerland96032381518
3Slovenia94141611513
4Estonia931548-410
5Lithuania9315715-810
6San Marino9018134-331

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Northern Ireland10631168821
2Romania10550112920
3Hungary10442119216
4Finland10334910-112
5Faroe Islands10208617-116
6Greece10136714-76

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Austria98101951425
2Russia95221951417
3Sweden9432139415
4Montenegro93241011-111
5Liechtenstein9126223-215
6Moldova9027414-102

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Italy9630146821
2Norway9612128419
3Croatia95311951417
4Bulgaria9225712-58
5Azerbaijan9135716-96
6Malta9027315-122

I

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Portugal8701115621
2Albania8422105514
3Denmark833285312
4Serbia8215813-54
5Armenia8026514-92
View full European Championship Qualifying tables

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